There are moments in a person’s life that are so impactful they will never be forgotten. One of those moments happened on December 3, 2019. Why? My city, Olathe, Kansas, passed a non-discrimination ordinance to protect all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender expression, from discrimination in the city of Olathe. Adding sexual orientation and gender identity to existing non-discrimination laws ensures that LGBTQ+ people receive the same protections as other minority groups.
I wanted to take time to reflect on this moment, because moments like this don’t happen very often.
These are my personal thoughts:
I want to start by focusing on several people who deserve great credit for achieving this protection. The Non-Discrimination Ordinance (NDO) would not have passed without these councilmembers who voted in favor of it:
- Mayor Michael Copeland
- Larry Campbell
- Marge Vogt
- Jim Randall
These 4 civil servants will be remembered as heroes in this city for passing the NDO and their bravery will not be forgotten.
My heroes and people that I admire from history and whom I wish I had had the opportunity to meet in person:
- Nelson Mandela
- Mahatma Gandhi
- Martin Luther King
- Harvey Milk
- Wintson Chruchill
- Princess Diana
- Mother Teresa
- St. Francis Assisi
- Woodrow Wilson
- Harriet Tubman
- Malala Yousafzai
- Jackie Robinson
- Roberto Clemente
But there are the people that I have met in person that I admire so much for making this world a better place that I can’t put into words how much they have impacted me.
- Judy Shepard
- Dennis Shepard
- Ronald Holt
The reason why I mention all these people? Once you know their life stories you see that they are leaders who, under tremendous pressure, made a stand that changed the world. Their stories inspire others to make a difference as well.
Councilmember Jim Randall is someone who I add to this list of heroes. I feel that is my responsibility to tell you a story of how Jim Randall made a difference in our Olathe, KS community. I was given the opportunity to meet Jim personally and to call him a friend. Jim Randall served the Olathe City Council for over 20 years. He is passionate about making our community a better place. Unfortunately, Jim lost his race for re-election on the Council. On December 3, 2019 he did not have to request a vote for the NDO but he led the Council to vote for the NDO. This part of his voluntary speech speaks to the bravery shown when he said, “I am voting yes, because I don’t think anyone in Olathe should ever be discriminated against for any reason.” As he continued, “Last count in my ward there are at least 22 religious institutions with probably even more that are not registered. Some of them agree with the gay life style, some of them disagree and some don’t really care. They are all about love. I don’t think it my place to tell people in different religions how they are to practice and live.” What a great example for other politicians to follow. (Click on this video to watch City Council pass the NDO. Jim Randall’s great speech starts at 14:52 minutes in to the video) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjtkVuaQD0A&t=8s)
Jim Randall is my newest person that I admire. Jim has helped create a path in Olathe where the LGBTQ+ community will be safe to voice their opinions and where they will not fear being bullied, fired, kicked out of their homes or denied medical services.
Also, the entire community needs to be recognized for coming together to assure that the NDO needed to pass. These are the type of people who help make a difference. Citizens who collaborated to create the NDO proposal. People who attended the City Council meeting every two weeks for the last year to request the NDO be passed. They are:
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer people that gave speeches. (Where their sexual orientation was now displayed to the public. As a consequence they could be fired or denied housing or services).
- Mothers and fathers of LGBTQ+ children who gave speeches demanding the NDO.
- Children and Teenagers who demanded the NDO through speeches.
- Allies who gave speeches of support or just showed up every meeting to show support for why the NDO was needed.
At first a lot of these people did not know each other. As a consequence of this activism a group has been created comprised of amazing people who want a community of support. This community has demonstrated that everyone needs to be accepted for who they are as a person. People should not be afraid of being who they are as individuals. The LGBTQ+ rights can’t be taken for granted. This community will continue to stand for LGBTQ+ rights if threatened.